Rev Preben Andersen
will publish Bulletins during the Coronavirus pandemic.
PREBEN’S ON-LINE BULLETIN 30
As I am writing this bulletin and also will be recording my next video today (July 4th), I am very conscious that my active ministry is coming to its natural end and that after today there are only three more contributions to go. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining nor am I sad about it, it is absolutely as it should be, only what four items do I finish with, and in what order?
Last week I wrote and videoed very much on one theme, namely that of language, and it seemed to work quite well. I shall endeavour to do the same today, and in the next few weeks to come. Not by way of an easy opt-out, rather as a means of following through a theme whether you read it in the bulletin or watch it on the video, or just maybe both?
Peace springs to mind today. Godly peace and peace of mind both. Not one or the other, both. Allow me to share with you just a few short Bible passages:
Isaiah 26:3 “Those who are steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because they trust in You”
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
And perhaps the most well-known of them all: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
If you have ever been to a funeral where the reading included the reassuring words of Jesus that “In my Father’s house are many dwelling-places”, you will know that the verse about peace, coming a little further down that reading, is often added by the person officiating. I always used to myself. And maybe you have sometimes wondered why? Is it because in times of loss and despondency we do need that reassurance that in God there is a peace, a deep and lasting peace unlike anything we can or should ever expect from the world? A peace, a gift with no strings attached, there for each to receive, thankfully and freely.
At times when, as for Margaret and me right now, we find ourselves in a period of transition, there are many occasions on which we can seek – and find – the peace of God. It can happen on our daily walks in the castle park grounds when so often the two of us meander along for quite a long time without the need to say much, if anything, to one another. Instead we simply find ourselves taking in God’s beautiful creation surrounding us and quietly acknowledging the other wanderers as we meet them with the proper social distancing in place. Many moments in life do not require words but simply a preparedness and willingness to let the in-dwelling peace of our Lord enter our hearts and minds.
Kevin Mayhew, back in 1979, wrote a lovely little song entitled “Peace, perfect peace, is the gift of Christ our Lord”. And that is near enough all there is to it as the word peace is the focus in the first verse and repeated several times over. In the subsequent verses ‘peace’ is replaced by ‘love’, ‘faith’, ‘hope’ and ‘joy’ respectively, but for each verse and for each sentiment expressed, the emphasis continues to be that all of these are “the gift of Christ our Lord” and also each verse contains the assurance that it is through the working out of these gifts that the world will know that we are friends of Jesus. I well remember one year when I preached at the Remembrance Sunday service at St Mary’s that I had picked this song instead of one of the ‘must have’ traditional ones. Knowing that it was ‘simple’ and easy to learn. I cannot honestly say this proved to be the most popular choice I ever made and I doubt that the Royal British Legion will include it in their repertoire again, BUT I liked it and stood by it as I just love the words and sentiments.
Verse 1: Peace, perfect peace, is the gift of Christ our Lord. Peace, perfect peace, is the gift of Christ our Lord. Thus, says the Lord, will the world know my friends. Peace, perfect peace, is the gift of Christ our Lord.” Get it? Now all you need do for the remaining verses is to replace ‘peace’ with those other lovely words, i.e. love, faith, hope and joy.
You see, having had the opportunity to attend several quiet retreats in my ministry, repetition certainly comes into preparing our souls and minds carefully and prayerfully for God. Taize retreats and songs would not be Taize without repetition of the words. Also, sometimes in our worship on a Sunday – can we still remember what that used to feel like? – we would have quiet moments of prayer in our intercessions. Sometimes for as long as five minutes or until someone started coughing, fidgeting, or checking to see whether maybe their watch had stopped? Silence is not always comfortable and does not come easy for everyone, yet it is biblical as proven by the quotations with which I began, and the many more you can find yourself.
Jesus is the Giver of Peace, true peace, ever-lasting peace. Peace of heart and mind. No doubt about it. Finding peace in the world at large can be difficult at the best of times and it is always transitory, sooner or later it will always come to a sudden end. In earthly terms, this needs to be so, for we are busy people, and there is much to do. But is it not reassuring therefore that at the end of the day, when all the work is done, we may seek and find that all-encompassing peace of God in heaven? I think so, and perhaps in a strange kind of way retirement for some of us is the next important stage in preparing for it without of course downing tools completely. Just a little more thinking time, more prayer time, more Godly time, quietly and assuredly. That cannot be bad.
Right, this said, I must get on. Things to do, people to ring, a video to get done, e-mails to check, but hey… who is that? Margaret calling? “Can we go for our walk now, please?” “Yes, let us do just that. The rest will wait.” God bless you.
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